Where to get the polio vaccine? ‘Maximum protection’ against virus

Dr Hilary says children not fully jabbed against Polio 'potentially at risk'

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Polio is an infectious disease that in its most severe form can cause nerve injury leading to paralysis, difficulty breathing and in worst cases, death. Up to 116 positive samples of the virus have been detected in sewage across north and east London since February and now, the Government is rolling out a rapid vaccine booster campaign for children to prevent the spread.

Despite being declared eradicated in Britain in 2003, the virus is still rife in some countries, and most of the samples found in the sewage this year are believed to be linked to the oral polio vaccine these countries use containing a live virus.

The oral vaccine is safe for those who consume it and it provides strong levels of immunity however, it does have the potential to spread from person to person in areas that don’t have the same protection.

After finding positive samples of the virus in Beckton sewage, it’s been identified in eight other areas including Barnet, Brent, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington, and Waltham Forest.

While further sampling is carried out across London to assess the full extent of the spread, the Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has recommended a rapid booster campaign for children to reduce the risk and raise immunity levels.

Jane Clegg, chief nurse for the NHS in London said: “While the majority of Londoners are protected from polio, the NHS will shortly be contacting parents of eligible children aged one to nine years old to offer them a top-up dose to ensure they have maximum protection from the virus.

“We are already reaching out to parents and carers of children who aren’t up to date with their routine vaccinations, who can book a catch-up appointment with their GP surgery now and for anyone not sure of their child’s vaccination status, they can check their Red Book.”

Where to get the polio vaccine

To get a polio vaccination, simply book an appointment with your GP surgery. You’ll get vaccinated for free on the NHS.

If you’re unsure if you’ve been vaccinated against polio, contact your GP surgery to check if you or your child are up to date.

For children and babies, you can also check their personal child health record (the red book). To find your nearest GP, click here.

According to the NHS, booking a vaccine is the best way to prevent polio, and you can have one at any point if you’ve never had one before.

It also advises those who have already had polio to get vaccinated as it will protect against the different variations.

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Dr Vanessa Saliba, consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA, said: “It is vital parents ensure their children are fully vaccinated for their age.

“Following JCVI advice all children aged one to nine years in London need to have a dose of polio vaccine now – whether it’s an extra booster dose or just to catch up with their routine vaccinations.

“It will ensure a high level of protection from paralysis. This may also help stop the virus spreading further.”

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